B'er Chayim Temple

The B'er Chayim Temple (Hebrew for Well of Life, a metaphor in which Torah is likened to water) in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland, was built in 1866 for the local Jewish congregation. Originally Orthodox, it is now Reform. It is one of the oldest congregations in Maryland and its 1865 building is one of the oldest synagogue buildings in the United States.


The first Jewish resident recorded in Cumberland dates to 1816. Twelve families were living in Cumberland, which then had a population of 6,150, in 1853 when congregation B'ere Chayim was incorporated by the state legislature. The congregation was orthodox when the temple was built, although it is now a Reform congregation.

In 1865-67 the congregaton built a two-story, Greek revival synagogue building on the corner of South Centre and Union Streets. The facade is ornamented with four pilasters, a handsome pediment, and four very un-Greek Rundbogenstil, or round-arched, windows. The building was constructed by local builder John B. Walton.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com